Friday, April 9, 2010

Days at Kennel Vertigo by Jim Wilke

Okay, first of all, since the wife does not like the name it will not last, and before she changes it to something majestic, let me explain the name. We had been doing rescues for some time before we could afford a kennel, which we bought second hand. We would have two or three dogs at a time, place them in good homes and get a few more for rescue.

Somewhere this got out of hand until we had more….many more. We had to move to the country due to the “more.” Until recently we were up to 27 dogs and puppies. We are still around 25. When we saw this coming we located some chain link fencing and metal poles. With me being laid off from my job, the cost of the cement to secure the poles in the ground was more than we could afford. I simply pounded the poles into the ground and wired the fence to it.

I agree, not professional, but it has worked. The only problem is that this ground is soft. As the dogs bounce off the fencing the fence in turn bounces against the poles. The result has been a various direction kennel I have fondly named “Vertigo.”

In the meantime, we have given our dogs to many families throughout Montana and even into other states. Lately, through many interactions with various families, I have occasionally been called “special” for what we have been able to accomplish. If this were to have happened a few years ago the wife would have cocked one eyebrow and, with her steely gaze, would have replied “yah, he’s special all right”. Her condescension knows no bounds. Now I think she may agree with them. In a way, so do I.

I do not know of a decent human being that can look into the trusting, frightened eyes of a dog that is facing certain death and not want to do something for it. With this being said, I do not see my wife and I taking the dogs in as anything special. It is the dark side of kennel life where I believe our “specialness” comes out.

I was raised on a rather large ranch where some things were overlooked. If my father had seen me running around picking up poops he would have had my brain analyzed. If we overlook this at our home we will step in it. Most of the rescues are very good at going out into the bushes to do their business but some aren’t. The kennels still need to be “flushed” a couple of times a day. Our flusher is not an automatic thing. I am very proud (and feel special) to be able to say that, even though I take every precaution up to but not including donning a chemical containment suit, I have become the flusher. I no longer gag when I do this. I no longer turn green. I no longer say “aw poop, more poop”.

Another facet of kennel life is distraction.

When a person lives anywhere in Montana it is considered living in the “boonies”. We live in an area where the people living in the “boonies” make fun of us. On the up-side of this, we have a wonderful diversity of wildlife at our door step. It is a usual scene to look out the window and see deer grazing by where we park our vehicles. The down-side of this is the fact that dogs like animals. I will let one or two out to exercise and to do their business and in the process, they will spot a pheasant. They will begin to chase the pheasant. I will attempt to call them back. They will stop….the heads will slowly turn toward me, and then, just as clearly as if it were etched in stone or a newspaper headline, their eyes will reflect their unique opinion.
“That is a bird, we are dogs…we chase birds…that is what we do…where you been”?
With that, they will be off in a shot to resume doing “what they do” while I stumble after them and try to calculate how many points they have just taken off of my I.Q. and ego.

I also feel special because I no longer pursue the need to have the finer things in life. If, on that rare occasion that we have time, we go to a restaurant or bar, I no longer have to worry about anyone taking my things. If my jacket is on the coat rack it is obviously mine. Since homeless people do not usually have pets, the chew marks and dog hair is as good as a label with my name on it. The chew marking also works for my pens, cigarette lighters and most anything else I am carrying.

I can also now operate my remote control for the t.v. in total darkness just by using the number of tooth holes in the buttons.

I no longer have to tie my shoe laces…..since I usually have none.

I am, thanks to a game we play, in the best shape of my life….its called

I do get gray hair….but it usually combs out. One day I will gather it all together and knit another German Wirehair.

I do not have to prune around the base of our trees.

I do not have to take out all of the trash if I forget the bag outside by the front door.

The staff at the veterinarians’ office considers us family.

I know how many pounds of dog food every shelf in our home can support.

I know how many pounds of dog food I can carry in a day.

I know how many pounds of dog food it takes to make the car scrape the ground.

I finally figured out that green “stuffed animal” stuffing comes out of a puppy neon blue.

Fresh puppy poop has the same qualities as a strong glue.

Old puppy poop has the same qualities as concrete.

Last, but by no means least….I know the love of a rescue dog.

Yes, there are the days when I want to load my aspirins into a Pez dispenser for easier access. Yes, they have eaten numerous remotes, shoes, coats, gloves and assorted belongings. And yes, their care has been expensive and difficult to maintain.

But there is a definite pay back. When we let them out they will race around the yard, sometimes looking for a place to do their business, sometimes chasing objects real and imaginary. Invariably, at some point during this run, they will come to us. They will rest between our legs, body in our arms. They will cuddle. They will look directly into my eyes.

In this one moment I know I am loved and thanked…..unconditionally.